During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are spending more time than ever working from home. That’s why it’s important to be sure that your office equipment and furniture is set up in a way that isn’t negatively impacting your health and well-being.
WHAT ARE OFFICE ERGONOMICS?
The term “ergonomics” applies to the science or process of improving human performance and efficiency in spaces by changing design, posture, and habits to remove risk factors that lead to musculoskeletal injuries. Office ergonomics can be impacted by everything from the height of your desk chair to the kinds of natural or artificial light you have in your workspace.
While you might think that major changes would be necessary to make a difference, that’s not the case. Even small changes can make a big impact on the ergonomics of your space. Here are six practical and easy ways to improve your home office ergonomics without breaking the bank.
1 – CHOOSE THE RIGHT CHAIR
Since we spend a lot of time sitting and looking at computer screens, choosing the right chair is one of the most important things to consider for better office ergonomics. Try picking a chair that’s easily customizable to your size, where both the height and the tilt of the seat can easily be adjusted. While seats are typically a standard width, pay close attention to the seat depth. The seat should be deep enough to comfortably rest your back on the backrest while still having 2-4 inches between the back of the knees and the seat of the chair. Also, make sure the cushion is comfortable enough for all-day sitting. It’s also a good idea to look for a chair with an adjustable lumbar. This assists the body in holding the natural inward curve located in the lower part of the spine.
2 – ADJUST THE HEIGHT OF YOUR DESK
Check and adjust the height of your desk to allow plenty of room for your knees, thighs, and feet. If the desk is too low and isn’t easily adjustable, try putting some sturdy boards or blocks under the legs to raise it up. On the other hand, if the desk is too high, adjust your chair to the appropriate height. Since sitting all day isn’t a very healthy arrangement, consider trying to stand some throughout the day. For instance, try standing during phone or video conferences. You can also purchase a fairly inexpensive stand-up desk converter that lets you raise and lower your work surface throughout the day. These are typically made to hold your computer monitor, laptop, and keyboard.
3 – PROPERLY POSITION YOUR COMPUTER & ACCESSORIES
According to the Mayo Clinic, your monitor should be placed behind your keyboard about an arm’s length away from your face and elevated so that the top of the screen is at or just below eye level. If you wear bifocals, position the screen an inch or so lower. You should be able to view your computer screen or monitor easily without having to turn your head to the side or hold your head down. If you use a mouse, make sure it’s within comfortable reach and on a level surface with the keyboard. If you use your telephone a lot, use a headset and avoid cradling it between your neck and shoulders.
4 – POSITION YOUR BODY PROPERLY WHEN USING A COMPUTER
When typing on your keyboard or using your mouse, experts say you should keep your feet firmly on the floor and your knees level with your hips. If you’re too short to do this after adjusting your chair height to its lowest position, you might want to purchase a small footrest. Keep your upper arms close to your body and your wrists straight with your hands at or just below your elbows. If you’re ambidextrous, occasionally switch the hand that you use to operate the mouse to alternating sides of the keyboard.
5 – CONTROL SUNLIGHT AND GLARE FOR BETTER OFFICE ERGONOMICS
Natural light positively impacts productivity, so you want to have as much light as possible in your workspace. At the same time, sunlight coming through windows can cause annoying glare. This glare not only causes discomfort but can also lead to eye strain and even headaches.
The other problem with sunlight in home offices is that it can interfere with the visibility of screens on electronic devices. These devices include laptops, monitors, tablets, and smartphones.
Professionally installed window tint is an affordable solution that can alleviate these sun-related problems. Window film reduces glare by blocking a portion of the sun’s visible light that enters through glass windows and doors, while still letting in plenty of the natural light. The film also protects your skin and home furnishings from damaging UV rays. In addition, window film improves comfort by helping to regulate indoor temperatures and eliminating hot and cold spots around windows. This can lower your energy bills and help you save money.
6 – USE THE RIGHT BULBS & SCREEN SETTINGS
When lighting your workspace with lamps, consider using incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs, halogen bulbs, or warm white fluorescent bulbs, which are easier on the eyes than traditional cool or bright white fluorescent bulbs. Also, don’t forget to adjust the lighting on your computer so that it’s not too bright or too dim. Adjust the contrast if needed to make viewing items on your screen easier.
Use these tips for improving the comfort and functionality of your home office. When you work in an ergonomically friendly environment, you’ll enjoy improved productivity and enhanced well-being.
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